The Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic

In 2013 the Arabic Center for Research and Politics Studies lunched an ambitious ongoing program to build an Arabic Historical Dictionary.

This is the first Arabic dictionary that traces the origin and the etymology of the Arabic words in a historical context. It looks for the most available sources that spam from inscriptions that goes back to 400 AD, pre-Islamic poetry to early, classical, and modern Arabic texts. Moreover, the dictionary traces the changing of the word’s meanings throu time, giving chronological historical examples in context. Each entry is a memoir of the word that reflects the history and the current account of the Arabic language in general.

To access the dictionary one will need to register with an email address, activate the account and start using it immediately. Every entry will give the root of the word, its part of speech, the source (in historical order as we mentioned), the name of the person in the source, the historical usage of the word, its etymology, and the meanings.

Let us look at one entry as an example: the root قتل qtl will return this result: Screenshot 2019-02-01 at 20.58.33.pngAs you can see, there is 10 inscriptions (نقوش) in the top left, and 44 dictionary entries. The earliest trace of this root is not determined exactly (between 1BC and 2AD). The earliest script is written in the Ṣafawiyya’s Northern Arabic language, and the script was found in Syria’s steps. Reading further I learned, from ʿAmr b. Rabīʿa’s poetry, that if the women taqattalat تَقَتَّلَتِ it means that she is dressing up and being flirty; while al-Muqtatal المُقتَتَل is the one who is killed by an excessive love.

More than 300 Arabic scholars are still working on this project. Most of the fundings comes from Qatar’s prince Shaikh Tamīm b. Ḥamad Āl Thānī, and it is based in Dawḥā; this is why it is called Dawḥa’s dictionary. The main challenges that they face is the impossibility of claiming completeness, mainly because of the vast amount of Arabic texts. This is the first stage of the project; and according to the official website everyone is invited to help and collaborate.

My problem with the website was that I could not copy and paste from it. The other problem is that every entry gives the option to quote or comment, yet it dose not function yet.Screenshot 2019-02-01 at 21.16.14.png


3 thoughts on “The Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic

  1. Regarding the copy-paste issue: Could a tool like help? It’s an extra step, of course, but may be worth a look. It helped me in other cases when copying and pasting from a website simply weren’t possible.

    1. do not work with this website, the easiest way is through inspector (see attached video 👇)

      I mean come on, its an online electronic dictionary that won’t let you copy and paste !! This is so uninviting 😒

  2. This is amazing! Since starting into Arabic and Quranic studies, I have been wanting to see material like this developed. It was even beginning to make me lament not having majored in linguistics and programming. Thank you for finding and publicizing this!

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